I will tell you a tale that may or may not be a prediction of what is about to happen to the Celtics. You decide……
The Celtics are one of the oldest teams playing in the NBA. One of their bigs is considered by many to be out of shape, overweight, and well past his prime. Many believe he’s tanking games, and accuse him of never trying, not defending, not doing his job, etc. Their cherished star forward is also aging, ailing and playing far below his own standard.
As the regular season winds down, the Cs are looking dangerously unready. They lose to bad teams. They look disinterested and dispirited. And they keep losing. They will no doubt end the season with an unhappy record of less than 50 games won, good for just 4th seed in the East. Most people, including their own fans, believe they'll be one and done in the playoffs, or at best, eliminated in the second round.
But the Celtics will wake up the day the playoffs begin. They will start playing with urgency and focus. They will start looking like the Celtics of old. They will FLIP THEIR SWITCH!
Your decision? Will this, or will this not happen?
Are you done?
Good. Here is the answer:
It happened. To the 1968-69 Celtics, who, after finishing the regular season with a dismal record of 48-34, beat Jerry West and the heavily-favored Lakers in the 7th game of the 1969 Finals.
Note: The 2010 Celtics’ record will be better than 48-34.
:::::Anything is possible:::::
If the Celtics get rolled by the Bucks, or Bobcats in round one, then we’ll say we saw it the whole way through, and Celtics’ fans will be crushed.
If the Celtics make it out of round one, then get pillaged by Orlando or Cleveland, we’ll say we saw it the whole way through, and the Celtics’ fans will likely target a system of excuses, as is a fan’s right.
If the Celtics somehow figure out Orlando or Cleveland and make it to the ECF, then lose, we’ll say they showed more than what they did in the regular season, but the flaws were still evident early on, and Celtics fans will, again, target a system of excuses, as is a fan’s right.
If they make the Finals and lose, we’ll say they were as good as we thought they could be, better than how they looked, just not as good as LA. Celtics fans will take solace in losing to a “worthy” rival.
If they win the title, it will be the biggest “flipjob” in the history of the sport.
In a stark contrast to my usual eagerness to put the tombstone up before a conventional contender’s body is cold, I’m really second-guessing myself in regards to the Celtics. This sounds insane after they got “toyed with” as Russillo said on the B.S. Report by the Cavs, after looking human-to-bad for months, but a voice in the back of my head keeps bugging me. It keeps saying the same thing over and over again.
“This is too easy.”
If you remember last year, at this time, people weren’t talking about the Lakers. They were talking about the Cavs. Top seed, most wins, unstoppable, MVP-led Cleveland. So while to me it was obvious the Lakers were winning the title (which wasn’t exactly decoding pi), it wasn’t unanimous. But the Celtics are trickier. Most everyone outside of Boston and Tim Legler (who was talking about the Celtics’ late season additions of Robinson and Finley as the best in the league on ESPN radio last weekend, causing me to nearly swerve off the road) think the Celtics have blood in the water, and they ain’t the sharks.
But that’s just too easy, isn’t it? The constant losses to contenders, and the worst teams in the league, the talk of boredom which leads almost to reinforce their confidence and obliviousness to genuine problems, all of it is just too obvious.
Or am I overthinking it?
Wouldn’t dismissing a team with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Kendrick Perkins be borderline disastrous? Wouldn’t ignoring their experience and knowledge of themselves be reprehensible? Wouldn’t constantly talking in rhetorical questions get really obnoxious (bit late for that, Matthew)?
I go back every thirty seconds, simply because the Celtics haven’t just been “kind of bad.” They were point blank outclassed against Cleveland. They never really threatened. When they pulled within 10, the Cavs just gave the ball to LeBron, he calmly drew free throws, and that was all. This in a game where the Celtics caught a break and the Cavs missed free throws like their jibblets were frozen solid.
Celtics fans have been reduced to turning to the ’69 team for comfort (which is appropriate, since that was when RayAllen and KG graduated high school -BA-DUM-DUM-DUM). We’re all writing them off. Someone is kidding themselves. And it drives me nuts that we’ve got to wait thirty days to find out who.